Preparing the Garden of Privilege (edited)

“Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally.”

A single jpeg with the wording "I'm only responsible for what I say and not for what you understand" surrounding a butterfly
Like election promises, we hear what’s convenient

Coming out of this (maybe) pandemic nightmare, I believe, is going to leave some unexpected “long hauler” effects on a society in general. Personally, having been through this before, albeit I was only ten years old, but with the benefit of six decades to look back on, it is easier to see patterns. 1960 was really the year when polio kids began being accepted into the community, five years after the introduction of the polio vaccine (1955). Prior to that there wasn’t much acknowledgement of disable in the community.

Prior to WW2, western Canada had primarily been an agrarian society while developing the natural resources economy. At the same time central Canada was mainly commerce and manufacturing with some natural resource in the northern parts of Ontario also extending into Quebec. Understanding the history of the wide variety of economic “restarts” Canada has experienced should provide some important lessons on “recreating” an economy when the parameters have changed so drastically in the last hundred years. The biggest difference this time around is “social media”. With five generations now eligible to vote the importance of a generational “union of thought” requires dialogue and compromise between the numerous generations. We will just continue to slide backwards if we can’t, as a society, get past “generational shaming” to discuss “solution based” compromise.

Prior to WW2 Canada was recovering from the “Great Depression” which had created a major migration from farming towns to major urban centre. Economic changes needed to fully transition from the pre-war economy to a post-war changing labour force contributed to a growing “middle class“. The returning injured veterans were no longer content being stuck in an institute as their “reward” for their sacrifice to their country.

The services and supports needed where all in “the City” so many stayed there, in 1946 they saw no future for themselves on the farm. Returning home with war induced injuries, these same veterans were not fully prepared for the battle for independence facing the disabled of the day. They were seen as “broken”, after surviving a disabling issue (spinal cord injuries, amputees, etc), fighting for their country just to get home and find themselves being offered an upscale prison camp. It wasn’t a planned cruelty but reflected a reality of societal thought of the day, provide a nice extended care centre and house everybody there rather than restructure communities to be more inclusive.

Veterans of the day were not about to simply comply with the current conditions and accept the “warehousing” facilities disguised as “extended care” facilities of that time. What quickly became apparent was that these veterans were not going to go quietly into the night, they wanted “options” for living independently in the cities.

Veterans, and by extension, polio kids only had a 25 to 30 year life expectancy post injury. It generally wasn’t the injury that contributed to a shorter life span, it would be any infections. The advancements made in antibiotics extended the life expectancy of so many disabled while demanding communities be more inviting and thus began the development of todays. However this life expectancy was based on data from a completely era. WW1 was a very different period but this was the data the assumptions being made post WW2.

The life expectancy of WW1 injured vets was less than two year (on average) so government could, and often did on a short term basis, basically make promises knowing the clock would run out. However, with the advancements being made in healthcare (particularly with antibiotics and orthopaedics), the sheer numbers of WW2 veterans, a growing media and the emergence of peer directed care was beginning to have an affect on the politicians of the day. Antibiotics drastically changed the anticipated life span of the disabled.

The history behind “antibiotics” is young (around 1930) but the importance of antibiotics had long lasting effects. It wasn’t the trauma that shortened their life, it was infection and who were generally the first people to recognize infections in a patient, the nurse. Healthcare is a slow moving process but it is moving forward at a rapidly increasing pace. Right now, in this pandemic crisis, what we need is just some good old “common sense”. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the folly in demanding Alberta nurses take a pay cut in the midst of a health pandemic. It may sound too simple however my belief system tells me to work “collaboratively”, not dictate conditions. The last I check Alberta is still a democracy however democracy, like healthcare, requires hard work to maintain. It was this same type of political dithering that wasted the ten days with my mother trying to get me seen by the hospital. That ten days at age 3 now has me in a wheelchair at 70, thinking I’m 35 but a body telling me it’s… well considering I’ve lived almost 40 years past my “best before date” I can’t really complain.

My belief system is very important to me and should be to everyone. All of our major life decisions are based on our belief’s with many of those are more subconscious than conscience. Beliefs are your moral compass and, like any compass, true north moves so every now and then you have to adjust your beliefs to match up with current societal thinking. I do that regularly.

This sad discovery of these unfortunate unmarked graves at these residential schools really stirred up some memories while creating a huge epiphany to me. Societal compassion in the 50’s, generally, created some very fulfilling hospital environments for polio kids. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for residential schools. Polio kids had “privilege”, as a 5 year old what did I know about “privilege”. Nada but that was one major difference between a children’s hospital and a residential school.

I can’t just sit back, “enjoying my privilege”, while so many unmarked graves are being discovered in residential school properties. What I find even more disgusting is the feigning of surprise from so many people, in particular politicians. I grew up under the influence of the wisdom of Edgar Cayce, “The Sleeping Prophet” and the conscience of a Jiminy Cricket type character. After all his primary purpose was as a “conscience” for Pinocchio or “courage” for Dumbo. What may start off as pleasurable but end with the reality of Old Yeller. This isn’t new, Disney wasn’t wrong.

When I was first diagnosed with polio (1953, 3 years old) I spend a lot of time in Winnipeg’s King George Hospital. At that age ones mind is like a fertile field for the mulch on a garden of thought. The amount of cognitive growth in that 3 to 5 year range really lays the foundation for one’s future belief system. I don’t have a lot of clear memories from those two years but compared to the kids in the residential school system, polio kids housed in a hospital were shown something that never seemed to be mentioned with residential schools. Fifty-seven years to get an answer, yes I would be fed up as well.

We were survivors, we were shown some dignity in the hospital, a concept not even recognized in the residential school system.. Sadly, watching the Alberta UCP roll back supports for the disabled, it’s not a big jump to see Alberta sliding back to the day of institutional living, AGAIN. We are slowly sliding back to situations that created many of these issues.

AMBIVERT – a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features

I can tell you as a survivor of polio, no vaccine is ever going to be 100% the same way a condom is never a 100% certainty that you won’t get pregnant. It was this same type of dalliance that delayed (ten days) my childhood opportunity for an earlier diagnosis but why worry others during a pandemic.

Well the tech just called to say he would be here in about ten minutes and I want to finish this. It may look like a simple thing but one can’t really He’s going to reach the cords I can’t (I know “connecting” electronics looks straight forward, and is, until you are looking at those cords from a wheelchair. So my next article, and there will be more, will be done on my new laptop. I think I’ve mentioned this but seeing this old desktop (served me well for over ten years) is like watching your first born move out. Later and stay healthy plus everybody, understand your common sense and reestablish your relationship with “critical thinking“…

I’ll be back, meanwhile I can tell you personally, as well as professionally but I read more than Kafka novels (I enjoy Kafka but his is not the only world, try some Jules Verne). Different perspectives can be good for your health and I never, nor should you, create a belief system that is so rigid it moves more into the area of propaganda. Later


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